Time Short for Threatened Garden!
Bennetts Water Gardens
Needs Your Help!
by Charles B. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief
September 1, 2006
Thanks to everyone for their support about that Waste Transfer
Today they gave permission to the applicant who threatened
to appeal if he lost. Unfortunately, the Council felt that they
could not risk public money in fighting an appeal. The Councillors
tried to attach noise limits, but they were advised that no one
present was qualified to set noise level standards.
They approved the waste transfer station in a 4-3-1 vote (4
yea, 3 no, 1 abstain).
As you might expect, the landowner of the site is a millionaire.
I must unpatriotically say the hearing was shambles.
On a positive note, many local people have made new friends
with a shared distrust of this threat to their area.
We can get back to the gardens now. The waterlilies are unaffected
Thanks again to all who supported our cause,
Norman, Jonathan, Angie and James
Bennetts Water Gardens
Government officials plan to locate a waste transfer station
and sorting depot adjacent to the internationally acclaimed Bennetts
Water Gardens in Chickerell, England. Dorset County Council (DCC)
Head of Planning Andrew Price recommends approval for the project
pending a final council vote June 2, 2006* **. If endorsed as
proposed, the project threatens a very serious environmental
hazard to the serene, beautiful gardens.
The replica Monet Bridge was
commissioned in 1999 to commemorate
100 years since Monet's painting of his
Japanese Bridge called
"Water Lily Pond 1899".
Image from Bennetts
The gardens' Angela Bennett states, "Any contamination
on the proposed site will drain directly into the groundwater
that has a direct feed into our ponds. It will be an accident
waiting to happen." In addition, anticipated noise generated
by garbage transfer trucks would surely disrupt the customary
tranquillity associated with a renowned water garden displaying
a Certified Collection of the International Waterlily and Water
Wildlife protection societies English Nature and Dorset Wildlife
Trust strongly object to the Council proposal that they see endangering
not only plants, but also the protected wildlife that inhabit
the gardens. Despite their unwavering opposition and determined
efforts by the Bennetts' attorney since last November, nothing
has stopped the momentum of the pending threat.
Bennetts ranks as one of the leading tourist attractions in its
area that includes a world heritage coast. This makes one wonder
why DCC would disregard the value of an economic prize for the
community in addition to its value to native wildlife.
This is not the first time that DCC has disregarded pollution
of the gardens. Last year, DCC built a new road along the boundary
to Bennetts. Following a heavy July rain, muddy water runoff
from the construction darkened the ponds to the extent that within
two weeks no waterlilies were in blossom in the large main pond.
The same thing repeated itself in August, normally the peak flowering
time. The runoff continues this season without relief from DCC.
Bennetts feels hopeless regarding corrective DCC action.
The lakes are the habitat of native wildlife.
Image from Bennetts
In 1959, World War II veteran and IWGS Hall of Fame Member
Norman Bennett began converting an abandoned brick clay quarry
into a thriving water garden nursery. Son Jonathan and wife Angela,
along with grandson James, have transformed the nursery into
one of the world's finest waterlily display gardens. They all
have dedicated their lives to enhancing the gardens. Now fourth
generation Bennetts show interest in the family enterprise.
However, after experiencing two confrontations with an unmoveable
DCC, the senior Bennetts now wonder if hope remains for their
family's beloved endeavour. Angela says, "We are so tired
of fighting with the authorities," and the stress of it
is a cause of health concerns. She continues, "We would
be devastated to let go," but she believes that they are
being forced to seriously consider "giving it all up."
How can you help?
Email Andrew Price, Head of Planning, DCC at email@example.com.
Tell him that you oppose:
Application No: 1/E/2006/0448 Waste
transfer station. Putton Lane, Chickerell
A flood of polite yet firm opposition emails from around the
world by WGI members will open Mr. Price's eyes and the eyes
of his DCC board to the importance attached to safeguarding Bennetts
Water Gardens waterlily collection.
Please include your name, location and WGI affiliation. Time
is of the essence.
* Update June 13, 2006:
The council postponed making a decision on the planning application
until the applicant supplies a sound survey. The next council
meeting is 7th July. Whether a decision will be made then we
do not know.
We would like to thank WGI members for all their support.
Our website has received hundreds of hits from the link on your
Best wishes, James Bennett, Bennetts Water Gardens
** Update August 26, 2006:
The proposed waste transfer has been deferred yet again and
will be determined on September 1, 2006.
The developer came up with a second re-vamped noise assessment
just days before the committee meeting. It concludes that there
will be no significant noise nuisance to the water gardens PROVIDED
THE DOORS OF THE STATION ARE CLOSED. On hot summer days they
just might want to leave the doors open. Open doors increase
the noise reaching the gardens by 20 to 25 dBA (their words and
We went to look at a similar setup on Portland [Island] just
5 miles south [where the operator states that they process] 500
tons a week. He says that if the one proposed near us starts
doing 500 tons a week, then he will have to fire some staff.
Oh, yes, and it is noisy and dusty!
Do we believe they will open the doors to receive the contents
of the skips (dumpsters) and then shut the doors before the machinery
starts sorting the waste?
Do we believe they will shut the machinery off before they
open the doors to extract the sorted waste?
Will our Tourist Visitors hear the dropping and loading and
Best wishes to you all, Jonathan Bennett, Bennetts Water Gardens
Note: This is an effort to save and preserve
an important horticultural site and collection, not an endorsement
of a commercial enterprise.
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